We love Laura Whitmore – to us her original love island was right here in Ibiza. Way back in the day, when she was a fresh faced presenter on MTV, she flew out here for one of her first assignments, to host Ibiza Rocks TV. Ever the professional presenter, she was telling us on the Pikes podcast that she used to (somehow) actually get up at 7am and go for a jog around San Antonio. Imagine the sights and smells of jogging about San An at that time 12 years ago – rather her than us. Of course hosting the Ibiza Rocks TV show meant she would find herself up at Pikes many, many times and has become a part of the Pikes family, and it’s a been a pleasure to see her career skyrocket.
As someone who has a degree in journalism, do you find that makes you better or worse at being interviewed?
I don’t know, maybe it makes me more conscious, which is probably a bit annoying for the person interviewing me. I do have a tendency to ask a question back, which annoys people sometimes, but also means I can normally guess what people are trying to get. Sometimes people will ask a question to try and lead to another thing that you don’t want to talk about, so I can be a bit like, “I know what you’re doing.” I always find that if you just keep talking at somebody, you can kind of steer them whichever way you want them to go. Which is quite beneficial.
Because you’re so used to presenting live TV with a producer yelling in your ear, are you really good at listening to other peoples conversations while people are talking to you at parties?
Oh my god! That’s the best question I’ve ever been asked! That is actually one of the best questions. That is true, I am really good at honing into different things. I always think it’s like my spidey sense – when you’re talking to one person but you can actually be listening to what the people are saying beside you. I do spend a lot of time when I’m interviewing somebody on air and then listening to somebody talking in my air. So yes, I am really good at doing that. Thank you for pointing that out.
How do you separate what’s happening in your ears and what you’re saying – is there a Derren Brown style technique for that?
Ha! Yeah, you have to be careful. Especially if something’s just happened. When you’re doing live presenting you can have what’s called ‘Switch’ or ‘Open’ talkback, which is basically the option where you can hear everything that’s being said in the gallery or just what you need to hear. I only ask for Switch because when I first started doing the big live shows like I’m A Celebrity, I just asked for whatever Ant and Dec did, because I had no idea. Then the producer told me to choose Switch because I don’t need to know everything that’s going on in the gallery especially if there’s something going wrong that didn’t really concern what I was doing. So I just hear what I need to from the director and my own producer and who ever is doing the count in my ear if it’s live. Sometimes people shout things in your ear but it’s not directed to you – they might be talking to the cameraman but had hit my talkback instead of theirs. I normally give it a pace before I react to whatever I’ve just heard, just in case it was a mistake.
Say you had the chance to have an Interview Magazine style feature on you, who would you like to interview you?
Oooh, that’s a really good question. I think I’d get the editor of Glamour US, who’s a woman called Samantha Barry, and is a good friend of mine. She comes from a news background – BBC World and CNN and then she moved to Glamour US, but we used to work at the same news radio station in Ireland. I actually interviewed her for Hot Press Magazine but she’s never interviewed me so that would be really interesting. I’d like her to do, she knows a lot about me, and she’s very smart. Anna Wintour hired her personally to edit Glamour because she’s bringing everything digital and online and she’s bringing smart conversations to the fashion and beauty industry, and I think she’d be the best person to interview me. I would love that.
If your agent was like, “Laura – unfortunately new rules state you can only do acting or presenting, and I have exactly the same amount of jobs for each”, which path would you take?
Oh that’s very good. I don’t know actually, that’s a really tough one. I guess I’ve done a lot of presenting so far because I’ve been going down that path and I’ve only dabbled my toe in acting between the jobs that I’ve done. I think I’d choose acting because you’ve only got one life and you’ve got to live it, but I think I’d be very sad not to be able to present again because I really enjoy presenting. Maybe I could act and play the role of a presenter, because that’s something I have done before.
Can you tell us about your first trip to Ibiza? Had you visited the island at all before you got the Ibiza Rocks TV gig?
Oh my god, I can remember it so clearly. I actually found some footage and photos of it recently. I hadn’t been to the island before so my first time was for Ibiza Rocks TV. The Pigeon Detectives were playing and I think it wasn’t in the hotel but a different venue. I remember the stage was somewhere else, and when I arrived we found our suitcases had gone missing. Imagine the first time working away from home for MTV and not having hair and make up or anything like that, having to interview all these bands and then your suitcase goes missing. It was quite funny. I also remember we were filming links all over the island and at one beach we’d gone to there were loads of naked people behind us so we had to blur out the images in the background for legal reasons. It was great fun. I’m trying to remember who else I interviewed. Was Dizzee Rascal there? Maybe that was my second time out but I remember I was with Dale, one of my producers from MTV and a few others from the MTV News days and it was very fun. I actually didn’t think I’d like Ibiza because I’m not really into dance music, so I was pleasantly surprised to fall upon Ibiza Rocks because it was way more my cup of tea.It’s fair to say that you became part of the Pikes family through being the host of Ibiza Rocks TV on MTV – how did that whole thing come about? Aah that’s nice, I do feel a part of the Pikes family. The MTV thing came about because over 10 years ago, I entered a competition to be a presenter on this big search called ‘Pick Me MTV’. I think 3000 people entered and I won it. And things haven’t really stopped since then. I feel very lucky but if you’re not in it, you can’t win it. I just took the opportunity and moved to London from Ireland and then got to travel to places like LA and Ibiza. It’s all been very fun.
To paraphrase Mrs Merton, what was it about a job in Ibiza getting to interview mega music stars in a rock ‘n roll hotel that attracted you to the role?
Oooh, what could it possibly be!? It’s really funny as well because I wasn’t cool growing up. What you’ve just said sounds like a very cool thing to do and I was a bit of a nerd at school I always loved my music but I just wasn’t cool. I always loved going to gigs and all that scene but it’s so far from what I knew. I went to a convent and then I got to interview all these megastars. Madness! I think as well that everyone is just a person and you realise that from when you meet so many ‘famous’ people over the years. The Ed Sheerans and Biffy Clyros are just like normal people. Most musicians are kind of nerds too and normal people and although they are actual rock gods but they’re pretty regular people. I like seeing that side.
Hosting it must have been a whole lot of fun. Do you have any printable stories from those days?
You know what, a lot of them I ended up becoming friends with, if that makes sense? I remember when The Kooks played I was good friends with Pete’s wife, Portia and the same with Example, when he played his other half Erin I was friends with. I kind of knew people well so you just become friends with them. If anyone’s ever worked with me, I seem very professional. I do sometimes become a bit of a nerd about things, my other half says to me that I’m always researching stuff, but I really love knowing my shit before I do something. But I remember once when I was over in Ibiza, going out for dinner with somebody and then going out for drinks and then I didn’t make it back to my hotel and I knew the crew couldn’t find me to do any of the interviews. I actually turned up at the hotel we were meant to be doing them way ahead of them, I just skipped the hotel part because we had a party instead.
What did you learn as a presenter doing the Ibiza Rocks job?
Jaysus, having a live audience really meant anything could happen. I remember the time Pete Doherty jumped into the crowd with his guitar, and I literally crowd surfed on a surf board over the Ibiza Rocks crowd. I quite loved the spontaneity of it all, the madness. I loved that people are too scared to show that on television now. A lot of it was good, clean fun in a weird way. I know it was a rock n roll but it was just having the craic with your mates, and that’s what it’s all about.
I’m guessing you went to Pikes for the after parties from Ibiza Rocks – was that your first time to Pikes?
Oh yeah, we definitely went to the afterparties at Pikes. I think I have stayed at Pikes, but not necessarily in my room. I don’t mean that to sound dodgy, I mean there would be lots of parties and friends would be staying there. The first time I ever went to Pikes I didn’t even know if I could get in. I had worked at Ibiza Rocks but it was a such a cool place, there was always a queue. I think it was Sunny who got me in the first time. Someone recognised me when I was standing in the queue as the girl who was doing the stuff on stage and they let me in.
What has been the best Pikes afterparty you’ve gone to?
There have been so many! I remember there was one where my ex was playing the piano and everyone was watching. There was another time when Idris Elba was DJing and there was a bed in the room, and then there was the time when I was in Sunny’s ball pit in the karaoke room, singing All Saints with I think Mel from All Saints and Skin from Skunk Anansie was there. It’s hard to differentiate all the different times. I remember once, and this is a great story, myself and Alex Critchley, who works at MTV, wanted to stay an extra week after working on Ibiza Rocks TV. Two of my Irish mates called Finton and Greg were going to come over to join us and we were going to share this villa. Then the villa fell through. We didn’t tell my friends that it had, we figured we’d find somewhere but we just couldn’t find anywhere. As it was the end of Ibiza Rocks TV we went to Pikes after and we were like shit, the guys are coming out in a day and they keep asking us for the address. Then at Pikes that night, we met somebody who had a spare villa, who gave it to us really cheap. We rented it out and it was a gorgeous place. The lads came out and never knew that we’d been so disorganised. Anything can happen at Pikes. What I love about Pikes is dressing up in Sunny’s Boudoir. You kind of go through and come out wearing a ball gown and glitter. I love fancy dress so any excuse and I’m doing it.
So were you at Pikes when Biffy Clyro did their legendary jump into the pool from the roof terrace thing?
Oh yes, I was at that party. That’s when I fell in love with Biffy. I really love the pool, sitting right in the middle of the hotel. I think it’s so iconic. If I was a rock star, I would definitely be jumping into that pool.
What keeps you going back to Pikes?
Good memories, it really is a home away from home. Pikes is a bit like lost and found – if you do lose anything head to Pikes because it’ll probably show up there. I’ve lost my phone at Pikes a few times, so if you find any spare phones around the place, it’s probably mine. It’s so nice to see all the familiar faces there and just all the stories that are created there. Life is for living!
Words by: Josh Josh Jones for The Pikes Magazine